( Photo courtesy Byrne family; graphic by Amelia Freidline )

Timothy Byrne, who helped launch several branded apples in the U.S., has died.

Byrne died April 10. He was 71.

Most recently, Byrne worked for New York Apple Sales, Glenmont, N.Y., while managing Coast to Coast Growers Cooperative. The cooperative markets apples for New York Apple Sales, Wenatchee, Wash.-based Starr Ranch Growers and Yakima, Wash.-based Borton Fruit.

“Tim was a kind and caring person that had a tremendous knowledge of the apple industry,” Kaari Stannard, president and owner of Yes! Apples, New York Apple Sales Inc., said in statement. 

Byrne guided Stannard and many other apple professionals as they entered into the managed variety segment of the industry, she said.

He started in the apple business at Pepin Heights Orchards, Lake City, Minn., running a pick-your-own operation and managing wholesale sales, said Chris Sandwick of Hess Bros. Fruit Co., Lancaster, Pa., in a eulogy focusing on Byrne’s contribution to the apple industry.

While there, he “grabbed a tiger by the tail when Pepin decided to go ‘all in’ on an unknown variety called Honeycrisp,” Sandwick wrote.

Byrne helped establish Next Big Thing: a grower’s cooperative, and served as its first president, launching SweeTango apples in the U.S. and working with plant breeding programs worldwide. 

With a particular love for the land and people of New Zealand, Byrne collaborated with the country’s Honeycrisp growers as they found their footing. He later helped launch the Koru variety while working with New York Apple Sales.  

“Tim brought intelligence, passion and joy to the apple industry,” Sandwick wrote. “He is missed, but those qualities remain through those of us who were fortunate enough to learn from him. Whether you were a customer, an employee, a colleague, or a friend, Tim Byrne was something special to you.”

Survivors include his wife, Lisa (Badendick) Lorentzen and stepchildren. 

A public celebration of his life will be scheduled later date due to COVID-19, according to Lauterburg-Oehler Funeral Home, Arlington Heights, Ill. In lieu of flowers, contributions in Byrne’s name can be made to Doctors Without Borders at donate.doctorswithoutborders.org.

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